Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So Much To Do.. So Little Time!

Bunny is now officially old enough and thankfully potty trained enough for sports.  We (okay me, I really have no idea what The Hubs' take on all this is, other than he knows I'm obsessing) want to involve her in so many things.  Everything sounds so good and fun!  My problem? What to choose.

Soccer was my initial thought.  Running. Kicking. Who wouldn't want that?   Soccer around here is big, huge, gigantic.  Even the moms at Bunny's last play date were talking about it.  It's almost "too big" if you get what I mean.  So now I'm waffleing.

If not Soccer, though, what will I put her in?  The choices seem practically endless.  Should I try to put her in dance class? Or Gymnastics?  Reality check here people, I probably can't afford either.  What about basketball? Baseball?  The teams sports have that whole working together aspect.  Learning to get along and work towards the same goal.  That's good right? 

Then again, she's only 4, I'm not sure how much "team building" she can really get in her little mind right now.  Maybe I should focus more on building up her self esteem, and independence.  Really focus on things like her coordination.  Maybe tennis?  Yoga?

I understand Karate is good for kids to learn disicipline and they can keep doing that pretty much for the rest of their lives if they want.  There's also a certain comfort knowing she's learning how to protect herself for when she gets older.  Of course, she's going to want to try out all those cool moves on her brother, the furniture, and the dog.  So maybe not.

What about swimming? Ohh, I've always wanted a kid who was on the dive team!  But then, do I really want to live out my childhood dreams through my daughter?  And I'm afraid of heights, maybe she is too!  What kind of mom would that make me?

So I'm asking you guys.  What should Bunny's first sport be?  She doesn't seem to have a preference.  She seems to want to do everything, and as I may have mentioned before, we're not millionaires, so I want to try to find something that she'll stick with for a while, and that will keep her challenged and interested. 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making Things Grow

Yesterday, I bought a few things to plant in planters for the almost completed deck space.  With some wonderful potting soil, and my own two hands, I planted these wonderful flowers.  We'll see if I manage to keep them alive.  I'm terrible when it comes to remembering to water! 

If you're interested in the photography part of this, please note, the camera settings for each image is below the photo and these are SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera - no photoshop-ing).  I'm kinda getting the hang of it 

If you're not interested in the photography part, just ignore all the photography bits and enjoy the flowers!

New Guinea Impatients
This was in a semi-shaded spot.  Shutter speed 1/30, f7.1 and ISO 100. 
With this one, I wish I would have brightened it up a bit.  This seems a bit more gloomy and grey than it appeared in real life.

Shutter speed 1/25, f1.7 and ISO 100.
More New Guinea Impatients

Shutter speed 1/160, f7.1 and ISO 100

In this much sunnier spot, I sped up the shutter speed and left everything else the same.  this is almost how it looked in real life.

Shutter speed 1/40, f7.1 and ISO 100

I got two different kinds of Tropicanas.  I love the colors on the leaves.  The flowers (which aren't blooming just yet) are beautiful, big orange flowers.

Still pretty sunny. Shutter speed 1/40, f7.1 and ISO 100
Here's a close-up of the flower buds that haven't bloomed yet. They look weird and slightly alien. I love it!

Shutter speed 1/30, f7.1 and ISO 100

This last set is a mix of more New Guinea Impatients and Yellow Wallflowers.  I love the mix of the purple and yellow!  The image appears pretty dark, but in reality, it's pretty close to how it looked in real life.

Super shady area.  Shutter speed 1/8, f7.1 and ISO 100
Close-up of the Impatient

Shutter speed 1/5, f14 and ISO 100
I really was just playing around with these two close-ups trying to brighten them up enough to see.  I have no idea what I'm doing, but maybe if I keep playing, something will eventually click into place (Get it? Click into place? ahahahaha!)

Shutter speed 1/25, f5.6 and ISO 100
I'll be posting pics of the final out come of the new deck soon.  As soon as the last minute items and clean-up are finished.  Can't wait to show it off!

Seriously... Thoughts?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Must Have

If you have never tried the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, you are seriously missing out on a house cleaning wonder power house!  And I don't mean that lightly.  We've used the regular Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the kitchen with great results.  Today I used this on our 60 year old clawfoot tub:

This tub, let me tell you, has been through a lot in 60 years.  That's a lot of baths and showers it's seen.  And it was looking pretty awful.  Nothing I tried would get it even remotely back to white.  Nothing until this.  I wish I had taken before and after photos, it was that dramatic.  So just take my word on this one.  You want this in your life. If it can clean up 60 years of yuck, imagine what it can do for your tub!

Seriously.. Thoughts
(ps. This is not a paid advertisement.  Mr. Clean despite his cute bald head, has no idea who I am and the company itself has no interest in my little blog.  I just really love this thing, and thought I would share.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

She's Off To See The Wizard

In our family, we have an adopted grandmother.  She's the girls' Grandmother's best friend (did you follow all of that?  Don't feel bad if you didn't, it's confusing for the best of us).  She was a second grandmother to the older girls as they were growing up, and she didn't stop when Bunny was born.  She swooped her up, declared herself Nanny, and that was the end of that.  Her love, thankfully, has no bounds, and we are blessed to have her as another member of our odd family unit.

Nanny offered to take Bunny to go see a kids production of the Wizard of Oz at a nearby theater today.  She even showed up last Thursday with a Dorothy outfit complete with Ruby Slippers.  Bunny was in little girl heaven!

Dorothy and her Ruby Red Slippers
Enjoy some of the great photos Nanny got of Bunny, and of the event!

Nanny, with Bunny & another little girl who played a Munchkin
Dorothy, Toto & Glenda The Good Witch
Before & After the kids got to take photos with the actors and get autographs!
Bunny with the Wicked Witch of the West

 This is why kids need their grandparents.  Another person to love them, another person to help them explore the world.  Another person to show them the way.  Thank you Nanny, for loving all our kids!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile

These made me smile, so I thought I would share.  Happy Friday everyone!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

PS. all manual baby (with some post editing) shutter 1/100 sec, f/7.1, 200 ISO  If you have suggestions on what I could have changed on my settings to make these better please let me know!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Must Have

If you have a toddler boy, you must have one of these.

It's a CAT Honk & Rumble Wheel and you can find it lots of places online including Amazon.  Will got this amazing toy today from his Nanny.  And let me tell you, he hasn't put it down yet.  I warn you in advance, it makes lots of noises, and even vibrates (the rumble part of the toy?) when you press the key.  Kind of annoying for us adults.  For one little almost 3 year old boy?  It's heaven!

Seriously... Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Manual, I Swear!

When I was taking pictures of our pup Morpheus, I took most of the photos on the manual setting.  Can you believe it?  I know, I'm a bit shocked myself.

I was visiting with a photographer friend of mine (Laura at LHB Photography) and she showed me the light meter in my view finder.  In a quick and easy nutshell - and in a general rule of thumb sort of way, depending on what one of my settings are (fstop or shutter speed) I need to adjust them until the light meter is right in the middle.

I forgot that handy little trick when I took my first shot. And it seemed a little bright and washed out.
For my first shot, my shutter speed was at 1/8 sec, I had this at f4.5 and my ISO at 100 (focal length 34mm)

I quickly turned the dial which changes my shutter speed.  Obviously, in the wrong direction.
For this shot, my shutter speed was 1.0 sec, I had this at f4.5 and my ISO at 100 (focal length 34mm).
Having my shutter open for such along time let in a lot of light, and of course, shows a lot of movement. 

Noting my error, I quickly turned the dial the other direction to make my shutter speed faster and ended up with this.
For this shot, my shutter speed was 1/160 sec, I had this at f4.5 and my ISO at 100 (focal length 34mm).
Now this is way too dark.  This was shot at 4 in the afternoon for pete's sake!

Then because I had to get some photos for yesterday's post, I turned the darn thing back to auto and got the last of my shots from a fairly cooperative pup.

It's a balancing act between shutter speed, fstop and ISO, I just need to figure out what that balance is.  Another thing Laura used a lot were the words "It depends on what you're going for".  Now, up to this point, I've been happily surprised by the shots I create.  The reality is, it's all pure accident.  As an artist in so many other areas of my life, I need to start attaching my artistic eye to my photography.  To really visualize what I want the photo to look like, then find the settings to make that happen instead of just being "happily surprised" when something works out.

I think this was a good start.  Maybe this weekend, I'll take some time to really play with each of them for a while and see what I come up with.  I promise if I do, I'll share what I find!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In ancient Greek mythology, Morpheus is the God of Dreams. 

In the Matrix trilogy, Morpheus is this, too cool for himself, guy.

Less recognizable but still pretty darn cute is Morph from the movie Treasure Planet.

In our house, however, Morpheus, Morph, and Morphy are all names for this sweet guy.

About 9 years ago, we decided our family of 4 (no Tweedles yet) needed a happy, fuzzy, wriggly, little addition.  We scoured the local Humane Society website daily looking for something very specific.  We wanted a small dog, who didn't drool a whole lot, short haired and super friendly with kids.  Morph didn't quite fit the bill, but when he and his two brother's showed up on the Humane Society adoption website, we knew one of them was coming  home with us.

After a quick phone call to The Hubs, who immediately headed down to put his name in the ring for one of these cute Australian Shepard/Border Collie pups, we found ourselves first on the list for our pup.  A week or two later, when we were suppose to finally bring our boy home, his brother came down with parvo and all three went into isolation.  About a month later, his sick brother had passed away, but he and his other brother were finally cleared to head to their new homes.  6 weeks is a long time to wait for a new puppy, but he has been so worth it!

He drools a bit more than I would like.  And while he looks like he's short haired in these photos, that's only because we clip him.  Typically he's one big ball of shedding fluff.  And he is anything but a small dog, despite his Australian Shepard/Border Collie roots.  Our Morph is one big dog.  But he's super good with the kids.  All of the kids.  Seriously, the Tweedles have crawled all over him, pulling fur and poking eyes and nose since well, since they could crawl.  He truly has the patience of a saint.  Not a Saint Bernard mind you, although I'm sure they're very good with kids too, but an actual saint.  The kind that are known for patience and not little barrels of alcohol.

Our Morpheus could care less about little barrels of alcohol.

Seriously... Thoughts?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bean & Meat Casserole

Okay, this is what the girls' grandmother calls and "Armenian-ish" recipe.  It's something her mom used to make all the time and it has a lot of the Armenian elements.  It's also super super good, so I'm including it.

So here's what you'll need:

1-6 cans of green beans (not french cut)
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
20 oz of  tomato sauce (in the picture above she used 1 8oz can and 1 12oz can).
Seasonings you like - she uses garlic salt, season salt, & lemon pepper and sometimes a tsp of paprika
2 large onions
1 lb of ground beef
4 pats of butter

(Note: Amounts vary based on the size of your casserole dish.  For her sized casserole dish she used: 5 cans of beans, 1 of diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 large onions and almost all  20 oz of tomato sauce.)

Put the meat on a large skillet on med-high and brown until it's crumbly.  Add the seasonsings when the meat is about half done.

While the meat is cooking, open up all your cans.  This is a good kid job - you don't want to get carpol tunnel or anything right?  Start with the butter in your casserole dish.  Then add a layer of beans, topped with some of the diced tomatos and about half an onion.

When the meat is done, put a layer of meat and top that with about half of your tomato sauce. 

Add the rest of the beans.

Then finish off the onions, tomatoes and finally the meat topped with the rest of the sauce.  If your casserole will hold more, you can hold back some of the meat and sauce to do another layer of beans.  

Cook at 375 until the onions are cooked.  Everything else is already cooked but the flavors blend while cooking so even if you leave out the onions, cook this for at least an hour.

You can cook this a day or two before serving and then just put it in the oven at 350 until it is warm enough to serve.  This is often served with bulghur pilaf.  Both of these items taste as good or better warmed up so make a large batch of each and eating it twice in a week saves a lot of time.

Serves 6-12 people but there's usually left overs.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I posted a while ago about how not owning a "mom" purse was just one in a long slew of reasons why I'm a bad parent.  A few weeks later, I broke down and give into the peer pressure and bought the "mom"-ish purse above. 

Now, it's black, which I'm told is no no number one.  Apparently "mom" purses are suppose to be a pretty color and make you feel pretty.  I like it though, and I don't think I'd be happy with a pink purse, so I let this one go.  No no number 2 is that it's not big enough to fit a baby into.  I was unaware, at the time of purchase, that this was a requirement.  Several of my women friends agreed, so I failed in this aspect as well.  However, since it's twice as big, if not more, as any other purse I've ever owned, I'm still calling it a "mom" purse. 

Now, it may not be able to fit a baby into it, but man, this purse holds a ton of stuff.  To start, in a side pocket, I now take a diaper and a little ziplock of wipes everywhere I go.  I will never be caught without them again!  On the other side pocket, I keep my keys, my phone and my Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers.    And inside the main part, I have my wallet, and it's now where I store the coupons I intend on using (no more forgetting them at home!), some travel sized kleenex, gum, a bottle of advil, business cards, mommy cards and the pen/pencil set that my grandparents gave me when I graduated high school.  And periodically it's also where I throw my beautiful, wonderful camera when we're on the go. You have no idea how nice it is to grab my bag and know that I have everything with me without having to look all over the place for it!

It gets better though.  Today, when we went to archery practice, we had a lot of things with us.  We each had our archery boxes that hold our arrows, bows and other equipment.  I had two bottles of water (it was H-O-T today) plus a red aluminum water container (see photo), we had stopped to pick up a snack and a cold drink on the way over, and of course, I needed sunblock.  How on earth were we going to carry all of this stuff?  So I stuffed the two water bottles and the sunblock into my purse.  Attached my red aluminum water container to one side and voila.  Half the stuff was suddenly all taken care of.  Leaving a hand for said snack and drink, and the other hand for my archery box. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a convert.  I have no idea how I functioned all this time without a purse.  I didn't know what I was missing.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dirty Only A Mother Could Love

My side yard, where the kids spend most of their outside play time, is a bit lacking in landscaping.  Okay, it's lacking grass.  In fact, it's almost all dirt.  Okay okay!  It's all dirt.  Geez, are you happy now?  We're working on it.  Right after the back yard.  Stop buggin' me!

However, it's where we have for the kids to play.  Most afternoons, we send the kids out to play so we can get dinner ready.  The up side of this is The Hubs and I have some marginal peace and quiet.  They are just outside the window, so it's not like we can't see their evil funny antics and hear them whining playing.  The downside, is that they get dirty.  Really, really, really dirty.  In fact, and don't laugh now, they like to make dirt angels.  I wish I were kidding.

This may be why I have such huge mounds of laundry every week.  Hmmm, things to consider.

Anyway, when dinner is finally ready, we call them in with specific instructions to wash their hands and faces.  Hands they are both really good at.  Faces?  Will has trouble with faces.

Please note the clean line right under his nose.  He got his upper lip clean in his attempts to wash his face.  But also note that it doesn't extend to his lower lip or any of the rest of his face. Just his upper lip.  And check out the look he's giving me.  Watchulookin'atWillis?  Uh huh.  That's my boy.

Still, if it's a dirty face only a mother could love, I'm awfully glad I get to be his mom.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

PS.  I used the auto setting.  Will I ever let go of my training wheels??

Friday, August 20, 2010

Armenian Wheat Pilaf

If you liked Rice Pilaf, you'll probably like Wheat Pilaf too.  Although in fairness, the Lone Wolf likes the rice pilaf better.  I'm just saying.  But to be fair, I'm giving you a recipe for both. Maybe you can hold a pilaf taste off with your family.  Just let me know which one wins okay?

Wheat Pilaf is more of an every day pilaf, where rice pilaf was typically used for special occasions.  I'm not prejudiced against wheat or anything.  I promise I don't have any anti-wheat sentiments or anything like that.  The rice pilaf and  I don't have any special deals going and I'm not getting any kick-backs.  I don't make up the rules here people, I just report the facts.  Wheat = Everyday.  Rice = Hoity Toity Special Occasions.  That's just the way it is.

It's made basically the same way though.  You'll need:

2 Cups of #4 Bulgher wheat (you can get this online if you can't find it locally)
1 Cube of Butter
1 Cup of Vermicelli bits
2 Cups Hot Water
2 Tsp Salt
2 tbs grapeseed oil or extra light olive oil if you can't find grapeseed

Brown the vermicelli bits in 2 tbs of light oil.  Stirring is the key here.  You cannot stop stirring.  It's best if you can find a big kid to do it for you.  I mean, why strain yourself when you have children?  

Once the vermicelli bits are brown, remove from heat and add 1/2 cube of butter.  Do not substitute with margarine - it will go horribly wrong.  Trust me on this one.

When butter is melted add the bulghur and return to heat and stir until bulghur is coated.

Add hot water.  It's important that the water be already hot, don't try to cheat and just add cold water, you won't like it.  Keep on the straight and narrow and follow the recipe!  Salt to taste, but start with 2 tsp.

Bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Now this is the most important part.  Just like rice pilaf, you MUST serve this on a platter or plate.  You cannot serve it in a bowl.  Sprinkle with pepper and viola!  Serves 3-4.  And just for kicks and giggles, this recipe can be double or even tripled.

I asked the girls' grandmother why the pilaf must always be served in a dish, and she said because her mother always did it that way.  Then she told me a cute story about how a woman she knew, always cut a little of the meat off of both ends of her roast before cooking.  When asked, she said her mother always did it that way.  Curious, they went to her mother, who said her mother always did it that way.  So at the next family gathering, they asked the original woman's grandmother why she cut a little of the meat off both ends of her roasts.  The grandmother said she used to do that because her roasting pan was always a little too small.  It just goes to show ya, traditions shouldn't be messed with.  Or is the lesson that you should have a bigger roasting pan?  I don't know, you figure it out, but while you're figuring it out, make sure you put your pilaf on a plate or platter.  Okay?

Seriously.. Thoughts?